These Poblano Turkey Burgers, aka the BEST turkey burgers ever, are utterly delicious even before you add an avalanche of toppings. Juicy, tender, and loaded with flavour they will satisfy all of your burger cravings.
The smell of a sweet-smoky burger sizzling away on a hot grill is undeniably alluring and something we look forward to making on repeat all summer. But there is no law that says the patty should be made with beef, or any meat for that matter. These turkey burgers, filled with charred poblano peppers and spring onions, dijon mustard, mayo, and a few spices, are every bit as juicy and flavourful as an all-beef patty, if not more.
Turkey meat is relatively lean, so turkey burgers get a bad rap for being dry and flavourless. I tested and retested so many versions of these burgers until I could give you the most flavourful, easy-to-grill, fail-proof, big and juicy turkey burgers. If you’ve ever been left unsatisfied by a turkey burger, you simply must give these a try. You’re going to love them.
Why You Will Love this Recipe
- A tasty, juicy, moist burger patty: For me, an excellent burger patty should be delicious before it is buried with an avalanche of toppings. That is exactly what this recipe delivers. Mixing the ground turkey with the finely chopped charred poblano peppers and spring onions is a game-changer. Not only do the veggies add a ton of flavour, they also keep the patties uncannily moist and sublimely tender despite being cooked through.
- Adaptable: These burgers are terrific as written but I offer many suggestions for ingredient substitutions.
- Healthier: For sure we should be eating less meat in general, but if you’d like to start by eating less beef, these leaner turkey burgers satisfy the craving.
- Great for meal prep: These turkey burgers freeze beautifully and reheat well so feel free to double the recipe for delicious future meals.
- Grill or pan-sear: These burgers are fantastic whether you grill or pan sear them. The recipe includes instructions for both methods.
Ingredients You’ll Need And Notes
Aside from the poblano peppers, the ingredients for these poblano turkey burgers are very straightforward. As for the toppings, I provide lots of ideas in a section below.*Note: Full ingredient list and measurements for the poblano turkey burgers are provided in the Recipe Card.
- Ground turkey – You can also use chicken, pork, or beef if you prefer.
- Poblano peppers – Poblano peppers are available at most well-stocked grocery stores. When roasted, they add loads of smoky flavour, moisture, and a hint of spice to these turkey burgers. If you can’t find them, you could use a combination of 1 jalapeño and 1 sweet red pepper. This will provide the same moisture but do note the flavour profile will be quite different. See more on Poblano Peppers and how to roast them below.
- Spring onions or scallions – I typically use scallions but the spring onions were gorgeous at the market so I used those instead. Either will work just fine. Rather than just adding fresh spring onions, I decided to char them a little along with the poblano peppers. The texture of the cooked, softened spring onions works nicely in the burger mixture but you can add them raw if you prefer.
- Spices and seasonings – I have tested these poblano turkey burgers with a variety of spices and seasonings. This is my favourite combo; Cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Simple but loads of flavour.
- Dijon mustard – Provides some assertive flavour to ensure these burgers are not bland.
- Mayo – This is Kenji J Lopez’s secret ingredient for adding moisture and colour to grilled meat. It works like a charm. Here, we are adding some mayo to the burger mixture, and also brushing the burgers with mayo before they get grilled. Fear not, we are only using two tablespoons total and the burgers will not taste like mayo at all. If you are avoiding dairy, or strongly dislike mayo, you can try a dairy-free mayo though I haven’t tested it with these turkey burgers. *Note you will only be brushing the burgers with mayo if you are grilling them. Skip if pan searing.
- Optional Creamy Avocado Sauce, for serving: This is the sauce you see in the photos, it’s delicious with these poblano turkey burgers.Mix juice of 1/2 a lime, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons mayo (or sour cream or vegenaise), and 1 grated garlic clove with one smashed avocado.
Poblano peppers are a very underused pepper which is a shame because they are delicious. They originated from Puebla, Mexico and are quite large compared to other peppers. With just a hint of heat and sweetness that mellows when cooked, the poblano pepper is great to incorporate into a variety of dishes.
These turkey burgers owe their delicious flavour and juiciness to the generous amount of roasted poblano peppers that is added to the mixture. Though it takes a bit of time to prepare them for this dish—they must be to roasted then peeled, seeded and deveined— their smoky-rich and earthy flavour not only adds an extra layer of taste, but makes these burgers extra moist and so special. The extra bit of work to roast them is so worth it.
How To Roast Poblano Peppers
Though poblanos can be eaten raw, they are best when roasted and have had their skins removed. A grill makes roasting the poblanos quite easy and hands-off but you can also use the flames of a gas stove, the broiler, or even a dry skillet. Whichever method you use, make sure you allow the skin to fully blacken. Otherwise the skin will not peel off. Here’s what to do:
- Grill: Preheat grill to the highest heat. Place poblano peppers directly on the grates over the hottest part of of the grill. Using tongs, turn them every 2-3minutes until the skin bubbles and blackens. Immediately place the hot peppers in a deep bowl and cover with plastic wrap or with a plate that fits snuggly on top. Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin with your hands. Alternatively, use a paper towel or small cloth to make it less messy.
- Gas burner: Place the pepper right on the flame of your gas stove. Use tongs to turn and flip often until pepper is fully blackened. If the pepper catches a bit on fire just blow it out and lower the flame. Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin with your hands. Alternatively, use a paper towel or small cloth to make it less messy.
- Broiler: Place poblano peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Set a rack directly under the broiler and broil the peppers and broil the peppers for about 8-10 minutes, flipping once, until skins is blistered and blackened. Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin with your hands. Alternatively, use a paper towel or small cloth to make it less messy.
- Dry skillet: With this method you will need a cast iron skillet. Heat skillet over high heat and place peppers directly on on the hot, dry skillet. Leave the peppers undisturbed until they start to char, then flip to another side. Keep turning and flipping until most of the pepper is blistered and charred black. Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin with your hands. Alternatively, use a paper towel or small cloth to make it less messy.
How To Make Poblano Turkey Burgers
This recipe is for grilled burgers but I also include stove top instructions. Just about every chef will tell you that burgers are best when cooked on a flat surface like a griddle pan or a cast iron skillet. I agree. As fat renders from the meat, the burger absorbs the juices and gets crispy on the the outside while remaining moist on the inside. But, it’s messy. And sometimes you’re just craving that smokiness from a grill or coal fire. Whichever method you choose, these burgers will be fantastic.
- Mix the burger ingredients: Add all of the turkey burger ingredients to a large bowl. Using your hands, gently mix everything until combined. Don’t over-mix. If the mixture is very sticky, lightly wet your hands to form the patties. Divide the mixture into 6 patties that are about 1-inch thick and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Chill, if necessary: Heat is the enemy of the uncooked burger mixture. If your kitchen is really hot, or the burgers seem very soft, chill them for 20 to 30 minutes. If you are pan searing the burgers, as opposed to grilling, you likely don’t need to chill them.
- Brush with mayo: This is optional but keeps the burgers juicy and adds colour. Use a pastry brush to coat a thin layer of mayo on the top of each burger. Skip this step if pan searing.
- Grill the burgers: Preheat a grill to medium high. When grill is ready, generously oil the grates. Place the burgers on the hot grill, mayo side down and brush a bit more mayo on the top. Cook for 6-7 minutes, covered, or until they release easily. Flip and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Lower the heat if at any time the burgers seem to be browning too quickly. If using cheese, lay the slices on the each burger during the last few minutes of cooking.
- To pan sear: Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (preferably cast iron). Once oil is shimmering, but not smoking, add the turkey burgers and cook them undisturbed on one side for 5-6 minutes or until they easily release without sticking. Work in batches if necessary. Flip the burgers and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Again, don’t move them around or they will not get nice and golden.
- Note: Peeling the peppers under cold running water is a lot easier and less messy but you will lose some of the smoky flavour this way.
Tips For Grilling Burgers
Grilling burgers can be a bit tricky to get right. Lean-meat burgers are even trickier since they can fall apart easier or stick to the grates. Follow these tips to avoid any of these pitfalls.
Clean and oil the grates generously: Turkey burgers can be softer and more fragile than beef burgers which can make them stick to the grates if they aren’t well-oiled. Use a wad of paper towels to oil generously just before you add the burgers. If you have a neutral oil cooking spray, you can use that instead.
Make sure the grill is HOT: Preheat the grill to about 450ºF and cook the burgers over direct heat. If the grill is not hot enough the soft turkey burgers will not firm up quickly and they will lose their shape and/or stick to the grates.
Don’t flip too often: A turkey burger should not be flipped too often. Give it some time to firm up before you flip it or it could fall apart or stick to the grates. Once you have some light char happening you can flip back and forth a bit more often until the burgers cook through.
Finish cooking over indirect heat, if necessary: If the burgers seem a bit undercooked but are getting too charred on the outside, move them to a cooler side of the grill or a spot with indirect heat until cooked through.
Use an instant read thermometer: A homemade beef or pork burger can be left just slightly undercooked but not a poultry burger. The best way to make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through without overcooking them is to use an instant-read thermometer. Remove the burgers from the grill as soon as they reach 165ºF.
Any and all of the usual suspects will work for these poblano turkey burgers but here’s a few of our favourites:
- Chipotle mayo – This Vegenaise one is delicious.
- Cheese – Use your favourite but a cheese with meltability is best, of course.
- Tomato slices
- Lettuce leaves – I prefer Boston lettuce for my burgers.
- Red onion slices – (A must for me).
- Caramelized, grilled onions, or pickled onions – a bit more work but so good.
- Avocado slices
- Avocado sauce
Artisanal thick buns will not be your best choice for a turkey burger. Go with a brioche or potato bun. They’re soft but sturdy and ideal for these turkey burgers. They are a bit pricier than regular hamburger buns, but really delicious and really worth it.
In addition, the bun shouldn’t be much larger than the burger. Otherwise it will overwhelm the burger to the point where you feel you are eating just bread.
Lastly, always, always toast the bun. It may seem like another step but I’m here to tell you—DO IT! The hot, crisp layer of toasted bread against the patty is SO worth it.
Make Ahead And Storing Instructions
To make ahead: Place shaped patties on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 1 day (you can maybe get away with 2 days if your ground turkey is really fresh).
To freeze: Place shaped patties on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Freeze for one hour or until almost completely solid. Place a small piece of parchment paper between each patty and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
Fries or chips are of course great sides for these poblano turkey burgers. But for something a little healthier and more refreshing, try with:
- Cowvoy caviar
- Watermelon Feta Salad
- 5 Bean Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Italian salad
- Potato Wedges
- The Best Guacamole
More Ground Turkey Recipes To Try
If you give this Poblano Turkey Burger recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Poblano Turkey Burger
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 2 large poblano peppers
- 4 spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced (I like to throw these on the grill for a few minutes before chopping)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons mayo, divided (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- brioche burger buns
- 6 slices Monterey Jack cheese
- avocado slices
- grilled, pickled or raw red onions
- lettuce leaves (I like Boston lettuce)
- Tomato slices
- Creamy avocado sauce *see notes for recipe
- To roast the poblanos, place them under the broiler or char on a gas burner on the stovetop, or on the grill over a direct flame until the skin blisters and blackens. Immediately transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a plate. Allow the peppers to steam 5-10 minutes. Peel, remove the stem and seed the peppers. Finely chop the peppers and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the turkey, spring onions, mustard, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tablespoon mayo (if using), salt, pepper and chopped poblano peppers. With slightly wet hands, gently mix everything until combined. Don't over-mix. Divide the mixture into 6 patties that are about 1-inch thick and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill the patties for 20 minutes, if necessary (*see notes).
- Optional: Brush 1/2 of the remaining tablespoon of mayo on the top of each patty. This helps keeps the burgers juicy and gives them more colour. Skip this step if you aren't grilling the patties.
- Preheat a grill to medium high. When grill is ready, generously oil the grates.
- Place the burgers on the hot grill, mayo side down and brush a bit more mayo on the top. Cook for 6-7 minutes, covered, or until they release easily. Flip the burgers and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Lower the heat if at any time the burgers seem to be browning too quickly. If using cheese, lay the slices over top of each burger during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Allow to rest a few minutes before serving with toppings of your choice.